Quoting Rita Mulcahy's book-:

Status report-: This report describes where the project currently stands regarding the performance measurement baseline.

Variance report-: A variance report compares actual results to baselines.

So basically what both of them do is to compare current results to baselines what is the difference then?

4 Answers 4


Well for starters - baseline(s) could be anything - cost, schedule etc but perfomrance measurement baseline is a subset of all the baselines.

Secondly, status report, as said is focused on vitals of the project . Say for example Earned Value Analysis - to see the variance in cost or schedule against the plan. This could be part of your project status report . This shows variance and can be said variance report but again this is or could be part of status report. Status report could also have other information about project risks, its impact, change in stakeholder etc.

Variance report could be part of status report but varince report is for other things as well like variance in quality metrics / defect metrics.

Its like the chemistry slogan - all alkali are bases but not all bases are alkali .

Similary status report among other things might contain varince reports or results but variance report is just a varince report .


I cannot speak to what Rita Mulchahy's definitions are but the PMBoK does not contain a definition of Variance Report in any way. It does discuss variance analyses as a technique to determine where you are against where you had planned to be. Therefore, you can infer that your variance analyses become part of your status report.

The PMBoK does reference work performance reports and then points to a status report and progress report as two examples. I think the main difference between a status report and progress report is that the former is based on a point in time, i.e., this is true now. A progress report differs because it would report what occurred over a period of time. If your project was transporting goods across a geographical area, your status report might say that you are located in this city, all vehicles are operational, all employees are well. Your progress report might read that over the past two weeks your vehicles covered 500 miles from the last progress report.

Your variance analysis might be included in both: your status report might say that you should have been in city B but only are in city A, with an unfavorable variance of 200 miles; your progress report might read, we planned on 400 miles since the last progress report but traveled 500, a favorable variance of 100 miles.

Then you would have your forecast report and your trend report. Your trend reports would be historical, looking at your metrics across many progress and status reports and your forecast report would be predictive, using your trending and variance analysis to predict where you will be in the next future reporting period.

In real-world projects, who cares what you call it. You'll choose to call it what will resonate best with those who are consuming the information and you will include in your reports what they need to hear and understand. But if you need to understand this to pass the PMP test, I would bounce what you read with Rita (a very excellent source) with the PMBoK.


IMHO, the first quote is misleading.

Status reports are/should be more broad and comprehensive than variance reports.

Every manager I've ever worked for has wanted a status report. What they want in their status report is peculiar to each manager. If you don't control the status report, you will facilitate closet micromanaging. I've had some success with a status report that summarizes 1) the final deliverable (as a reminder), 2) the current activities 3) Actionable items - places where management can productively lean in to help.

I've never worked for a manager who wanted a variance report; truth be told,every manager I've ever worked for has resisted the effort needed to build an accountable baseline. (Accountability is like aerosol polonium)

R. Mulcahy's book is brilliant and useful. It, like all PMP prep material is based on the mythology of project management, not on what is actually done. It is Ivory Tower Project management.


A variance report is a report that is specifically and directly looking for problems.

And: "why are these problems happening, and what should executive decision-makers right now do about them?"

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